Ultrasound may help regrow teeth

June 28, 2006

Hockey players, rejoice! A team of University of Alberta researchers has created technology to regrow teeth--the first time scientists have been able to reform human dental tissue.

Using low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS), Dr. Tarak El-Bialy from the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and Dr. Jie Chen and Dr. Ying Tsui from the Faculty of Engineering have created a miniaturized system-on-a-chip that offers a non-invasive and novel way to stimulate jaw growth and dental tissue healing.

"It's very exciting because we have shown the results and actually have something you can touch and feel that will impact the health of people in Canada and throughout the world," said Chen, who works out of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the National Institute for Nanotechnology.

The wireless design of the ultrasound transducer means the miniscule device will be able to fit comfortably inside a patient's mouth while packed in biocompatible materials. The unit will be easily mounted on an orthodontic or "braces" bracket or even a plastic removable crown. The team also designed an energy sensor that will ensure the LIPUS power is reaching the target area of the teeth roots within the bone. TEC Edmonton, the U of A's exclusive tech transfer service provider, filed the first patent recently in the U.S. Currently, the research team is finishing the system-on-a-chip and hopes to complete the miniaturized device by next year.

"If the root is broken, it can now be fixed," said El-Bialy. "And because we can regrow the teeth root, a patient could have his own tooth rather than foreign objects in his mouth."

The device is aimed at those experiencing dental root resorption, a common effect of mechanical or chemical injury to dental tissue caused by diseases and endocrine disturbances. Mechanical injury from wearing orthodontic braces causes progressive root resorption, limiting the duration that braces can be worn. This new device will work to counteract the destructive resorptive process while allowing for the continued wearing of corrective braces. With approximately five million people in North America presently wearing orthodontic braces, the market size for the device would be 1.4 million users.

In a true tale of interdisciplinary work, El-Bialy met Chen at the U of A's new staff orientation. After hearing about Chen's expertise in nanoscale circuit design and nano-biotechnology, El-Bialy explained his own research and asked if Chen might be able to help produce a tiny ultrasound device to fit in a patient's mouth. The two collaborated and eventually along with Tsui received a grant from NSERC's "Idea to Innovation," program to expand on their prototype.

Dr. El-Bialy first discovered new dental tissue was being formed after using ultrasound on rabbits. In one study, published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, El Bialy used ultrasound on one rabbit incisor and left the other incisor alone. After seeing the surprising positive results, he moved onto humans and found similar results. He has also shown that LIPUS can improve jaw growth in cases with hemifacial microsomia, a congenital syndrome where one side of the child's jaw or face is underdeveloped compared to the other, normal, side. These patients usually undergo many surgeries to improve their facial appearance. This work on human patients was presented at the World Federation of Orthodontics in Paris, September 2005.

"After proving it worked, we looked at creating a smaller ultrasound carrier where we can take the patient out as a variable," said El-Bialy. "Before this, a patient has to hold the ultrasound for 20 minutes a day for a year and that is a lot to ask."

The researchers are currently working on turning their prototype into a market-ready model and expect the device to be ready for the public within next two years.
-end-
For more information, please contact:

Dr. Tarek El-Bialy, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry
University of Alberta, 780-492-2751
Dr. Jie Chen, Faculty of Engineering
University of Alberta, 780-492-9820
Dr. Ying Tsui, Faculty of Engineering
University of Alberta 780-492-3192
Phoebe Dey, Public Affairs
University of Alberta, 780-492-0437

University of Alberta

Related Ultrasound Articles from Brightsurf:

An integrated approach to ultrasound imaging in medicine and biology
Announcing a new article publication for BIO Integration journal. In this editorial, Co-Editor-in-Chief, Pingtong Huang considers an integrated approach to ultrasound imaging in medicine and biology.

PLUS takes 3D ultrasound images of solids
A two-in-one technology provides 3D images of structural defects, such as those that can develop in aircraft and power plants.

Scientists develop noninvasive ultrasound neuromodulation technique
Researchers from the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences developed a noninvasive ultrasound neuromodulation technique, which could potentially modulate neuronal excitability without any harm in the brain.

World's first ultrasound biosensor created in Australia
Most implantable monitors for drug levels and biomarkers invented so far rely on high tech and expensive detectors such as CT scans or MRI.

Ultrasound can make stronger 3D-printed alloys
A study just published in Nature Communications shows high frequency sound waves can have a significant impact on the inner micro-structure of 3D printed alloys, making them more consistent and stronger than those printed conventionally.

Full noncontact laser ultrasound: First human data
Conventional ultrasonography requires contact with the patient's skin with the ultrasound probe for imaging, which causes image variability due to inconsistent probe contact pressure and orientation.

Ultrasound aligns living cells in bioprinted tissues
Researchers have developed a technique to improve the characteristics of engineered tissues by using ultrasound to align living cells during the biofabrication process.

Ultrasound for thrombosis prevention
Researchers established real-time ultrasonic monitoring of the blood's aggregate state using the in vitro blood flow model.

Ultra ultrasound to transform new tech
A new, more sensitive method to measure ultrasound may revolutionize everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.

Shoulder 'brightness' on ultrasound may be a sign of diabetes
A shoulder muscle that appears unusually bright on ultrasound may be a warning sign of diabetes, according to a new study.

Read More: Ultrasound News and Ultrasound Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.